Effective team communication strategies involve creating clear-cut project plans, touching base with your team regularly, and ensuring real-time communication. In addition to these, it is also crucial to have the right collaboration tools and to provide communication training for your employees.
Effective communication is the lifeblood of every successful project. It allows you to effectively collaborate with your teammates and make sure that your endeavors are going as planned. However, this is a skill that not everyone has as a natural talent. This is why it is important to learn some effective communication strategies that will allow you to make the most out of your online collaboration efforts.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the tools, techniques, and tactics that you can use to enhance team and project communication. Moreover, we will be discussing some of the trends that you might want to consider to optimize your collaboration efforts according to what’s new in the industry.
A successful project comes about with a competent team, effective team management and a capable project leader, bonded together by a common goal and clear communication. The importance of communication in project management can’t be emphasized enough.
As a matter of fact, many studies point to poor or ineffective communication as the number one reason or among the top factors for project failure.
Communication gels different parts together – products, processes, and people – to operate a well-oiled engine that runs smoothly. It keeps components organized and transparent so that everything goes according to plan, budget, resources, and schedule. Projects get to be completed successfully when everyone involved understands and are fully informed of their roles and responsibilities.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) points to three broad categories – people, process, and communications – as top causes for project fails. When you think about it, communications cut across people and processes. As a matter of fact, among the project managers surveyed 43% said that communication factors were key reasons for project failure, with process factors coming in second at 42%, and people at third with 32%.
The cost of business is also high. Do you know that businesses lose $11,000 per employee each year, on average, because of ineffective communications and poor project collaboration? In a regular working day, an employee spends two-thirds of the time communicating and collaborating, mostly on reading and replying to emails. Even if the email is an established communication tool, there are many others that are faster and more efficient such as live chat, real-time messaging, video calls, and even mobile.
The point is that there is no lack of tools, techniques, and technologies to simplify, streamline, and accelerate how we connect and collaborate with co-workers and teams inside and outside of the office so that we mitigate the high cost and inefficiency as well as increase your chances of project success. To help you out, we have outlined some strategies that you can apply to maximize your online collaboration software, team communication platforms, and project management tools.
What constitutes effective communication? The following are strong indicators that team communication is at healthy levels:
The benefits of effective communication extend beyond the team and will facilitate improved working relations vertically and horizontally in the organization. You and your team can better inform management and supervisors as well as support people under your jurisdiction of work progress and details. You’ll also be able to properly coordinate information, resources, and activities with partners, vendors, suppliers, and clients.
This write-up will mostly focus on how to lay out efficient team communication using best practices and techniques, as well as technologies such as effective team communication tools, team collaboration tools, and communications software, to name some. Consider these as pointers on how to keep people, processes, and communications working as one for you and your team.
What are the tools and techniques for effective team communication? Here are five strategies to start with:
Whatever organization you’re with or project you’re working on, you need a solid communication plan. It helps you set expectations with your team and stakeholders early on in your project and better shields your from demands that are outside the project scope. While being flexible should be part of the qualities of a project leader, unrealistic demands will drain resources and affect project delivery. A communication plan just like a project plan will properly inform everyone of the scope, components, and individual and collective roles, among others.
What must a good project communication plan include?
The communication process should not be a problem even if you handle remote teams. Many of today’s project management software have online communication and collaboration functions to ensure that your team members are on the loop and updated in real-time of work progress no matter where they are. A good example is the award-winning platform Wrike that allows cross-team collaboration through built-in messaging, live activity stream, email integration, and calendar synchronization, among others. Why not use its features at no cost and see how it could improve your team communication? Simply sign up for a Wrike free trial.
Among the qualities that make an effective team leader is that he or she must be a clear communicator. Despite the prevailing notion, however, communication consists of many skills which, for a team leader, include listening, coaching, motivating, negotiating, compromising, and resolving conflicts. This is why it’s important that you not only provide clear instructions but also touch base with your employees regularly to make sure everybody is on the same page at all times. There are best practices that can be applied to ensure that you communicate well, such as the following:
Now, how often should you do all of the above? Ground rules should be set beforehand while the others should be done regularly enough until such time that effective communication becomes second nature to your team. This can easily be determined once you see tasks and processes moving more smoothly, assignments are completed on schedule, and a sense of professionalism pervades all around.
Messages and information that do not reach intended recipients on time can lead to wasted opportunities and confusion. There is no reason not to be able to communicate clearly and fast with today’s communication software and collaboration platform. Real-time updates and instant two-way communication via instant messaging, phone calls, and video conferencing, drives productivity and efficiency, keeping team members up to snuff on project progress.
A fast-growing trend among software vendors is to offer mobile versions of their apps. You should look into leveraging this technology as it affords you anytime, anywhere communication with your team. It’s like having your office and your team with you on the go, unhampered by time and geography. Furthermore, some 60% of employees already use apps for work-related activities which resulted in a 34% boost in productivity.
Among the many advantages of having instant communication is that you are able to quickly address issues without having to wait for the next regular meeting or go through the team hierarchy. A team strategy that supports real-time communication enables you and your people to respond and decide immediately on the best course of action when unexpected issues crop up. The net result is a more agile and responsive team capable of addressing and overcoming unforeseen problems.
Without an effective communication practice in place, you would be hard-pressed to manage even a small team of half a dozen members. The challenges are amplified many times over if you have a team or teams of over a hundred people working simultaneously in the office, at home, and in different regions or countries. You need to invest in tools and technologies that streamline and enhance team communication.
This is possible with the current crop of software solutions that are designed to make collaboration and communication much easier. While many software of whatever classification provide some sort of collaboration/communication feature in one form or another or integration with email and document sharing apps, we’ll go over some of those that offer dedicated functions:
Remote team communication or virtual team communication can facilitate how you connect with and interact with your teams no matter where they are. Communication and collaboration functionalities are important features in whatever type of software you use and should be a priority feature when looking for a business solution.
You know that your projects are placed on a precarious situation when your team suffers from poor communication. You have to put great importance in this particular aspect of your business especially if you deliver projects for clients. The next best thing you can do is invest in good communication training.
This can be part of your regular corporate employee skills and development program or specialized standalone training for your project team. The training course should cover the basics of communication, how to improve speaking and business writing skills, how to develop presentation and reporting skills, as well as leadership skills training to identify potential managers and project leaders who are great communicators. Training will cost you but remember that the returns will further outweigh the cost when you consistently complete projects successfully.
While most communication, collaboration, and project management solutions are designed to be intuitive and easy to use, you can explore webinars and video tutorials that vendors normally offer for free to let you master their products. Often, there are knowledge resources made available that focuses not only on the product but general topics such as improving team collaboration and communication skills. There are also many free or affordable online learning courses that your team members can enroll in to stack up on their knowledge of the subject.
Communications training is often a neglected area, justified by the notion that we communicate with various tools every day so why bother? With training, you are targeting not just any kind of communication but effective communication that helps you deliver projects. Communication training will provide your team the discipline, education, and preparation to handle tasks and activities. It will reset your team to become even more efficient and productive, and further solidify the effective communications culture that you aspire for your team.
Now that we’ve finished tackling the best practices that you can use to boost your collaboration efforts, there’s another aspect that you should keep in mind to ensure the success of your projects: keeping track of emerging trends in the industry.
By understanding how these software solutions are evolving and how they are being used by other professionals, you can maintain your edge against the competition. Furthermore, this allows you to make room for improvements in your workflow, keeping you from being complacent about your collaboration strategies.
So, without further ado, here are some of the online collaboration trends that you should look out for in the next few years:
Good communication is a fundamental requirement for project success, regardless if you have a team of in-house employees, remote workers, or a combination of both. If you are presently experiencing communication issues with your team, know that there are steps you can take such as those we’ve presented above that can help you fine tune and reboot your team communications strategy.
Effective communication is built on openness and unhindered information, professionalism and best practices, and the proper and simplified use of communication tools. Focus on understanding what effective communication is all about for you and your team, and you’re on your way to providing optimum business value and achieving our project objective in the shortest time.
If you’re still struggling, don’t worry, finding the right tool to improve your team communication might help. Check out our list of top online collaboration tools for virtual teams and try out some solutions recommended by experts.
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